3 Men Plead Guilty in Connection With $350,000 ‘Grandparent Scam’ Targeting Seniors

The scammers are said to have targeted elderly Rhode Island residents by posing as family members or lawyers on the phone and asking for bail money.

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Image via Getty/Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency

A logo for the Department of Justice is shown

Three individuals have pleaded guilty in connection with what authorities have described as a “Grandparent Scam” that saw hundreds of thousands of dollars being pilfered from senior citizens.

Per WJAR, 14 seniors in the Rhode Island area were targeted with the scam, which is said to have ultimately resulted in them being defrauded out of more than $350,000 combined. At one point in the operation, authorities said, an intervention from one of the victims’ family members spurred the arrest of one of the individuals involved.

“These three took advantage of a grandparent’s love for a grandchild to fleece them of their hard-earned money. They caused the victims to believe a loved one was in legal trouble or in danger, using fear as a weapon to turn a profit,” Matthew Millhollin, who serves as Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations New England Field Office, said in a press release on Tuesday.

The Department of Justice said Tuesday that Bryan Valdez-Espinosa (22), Diego A. Alarcon (22), and Jason Hatcher (40) had pleaded guilty before a federal judge. The scam is said to have seen the victims being contacted by phone by people “impersonating family members or attorneys,” at which point the targeted individuals were falsely told that a family member (usually a grandchild) needed money for bail after being arrested. 

While all three aforementioned individuals are reported to have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, Hatcher also pleaded guilty to an additional charge of aggravated identity theft. Sentencing is set for this October before a federal judge.

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